big data changes travel 300x203 photo (big data)

Author: Linda Rosencrance
Spotfire Blogging Team

The words “useless information” should strike fear in the hearts (actually the wallets) of every company trying to increase revenue and profits.

After all, what’s the point of stockpiling vast amounts of data if you’re not going to do anything with it? Kind of a waste, don’t you think?

Well, it seems the travel industry folks agree because they’re trying to tackle the problem and turn useless information into data that can improve the customer experience, and ergo, boost revenue and profits.

For example, Hopper (@hoppertravel), a startup founded by a team of former Expedia employees is developing a website for consumer travel discovery, and harnessing a new generation of big data analysis tools to “fix” the data in order to “fix” the customer experience. Hopper’s travel-oriented search engine lets users search using just keywords to discover destinations and products. 

Hopper is using cluster computing techniques to build what it says is the world’s largest database of travel information. Using machine learning, NoSQL databases and big data processing, Hopper is transforming raw web pages into structured and organized information, so users can conduct better, more complete searches faster than they could on traditional travel sites.

The folks at Hopper believe that the current technology used by travel companies doesn’t take into consideration the fact that planning and shopping for trips aren’t sequential activities, but rather they’re part of a consumer’s ongoing thought process discovery.

To make things better, Hopper is focusing on using big data to determine the relevant relationships among web content, travel products and everyday life so consumers can search by keywords—any keywords.

Additionally, data delivery via high bandwidth networks will also have a tremendous impact on the travel industry because travel companies require a significant amount of data and processing to deliver products and services. Because travel is so complex it requires a significant amount of horsepower that is better served via central location services or via the cloud.

Here are some predictions about how the ability to move large amounts of data, and the ability to process data in the cloud, will change the travel game significantly, not just for the consumer, but also in the back office as well:

  • Metasearch will finally become “real search.”
  • Trusted sources will emerge for quality data. The current so-called gatekeepers of data will lose their control of data sources.
  • Entrepreneurs will develop new largely cloud-based services that don’t depend on the traditional restrictions.
  • Travel will become more implicit and automated for mechanical trip buying (e.g. corporate travel). The user will not have to work so hard.

Moving travel apps to the cloud combined with the increased use of apps for the front end to the consumer, will push as never before the current process of concentrated processors of data, according to the article. The travel companies that will be the most successful will use big data to understand and build trusted and reliable sets of services for the consumer.